Originally published in Massage Bodywork magazine, October/November 2002.
Copyright 2003. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.ï¿½When you suffer an attack of nerves youï¿½re being attacked by the nervous system. What chance has a man got against a system?ï¿½
Many of us stress about our jobs, our families, the traffic, bills, etc. However, worries are easily diminished with a hot bath, a warm meal and some relaxation time. But what if that stress didnï¿½t ï¿½just go away.ï¿½ What if it manifested itself in trembling, a racing heart, dizziness and even obsessive thoughts? When the problem graduates to persistent occurrences for weeks and interferes with social and occupational functioning, it is known as an anxiety disorder, a problem from which, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, 19 million Americans ages 18ï¿½54 suffer.
Conventional medicine seems to favor a combination of medications (including antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines, and beta-blockers) and psychotherapy, including behavioral therapies. The latter approach includes putting a stop to unwanted behaviors and re-learning alternative behaviors, accompanied with breath training and muscle relaxation, of which massage can be a tremendous help.
Aside from these choices, Freedom From Fear
and Anxiety Busters
, two web sites devoted to assisting those suffering from anxiety, suggest the following daily strategies:
ï¿½ Live in the present.
Learn to let go and have fun. Try not to be held back by the ï¿½what-ifï¿½sï¿½ and ï¿½should-haveï¿½s.ï¿½
ï¿½ Learn simple strategies to cope with symptoms
, such as taking a walk (even a short 3ï¿½5 minute walk helps alleviate pent-up stress) and stretching.
ï¿½ Set daily achievable goals
. Accomplishing even small goals makes the big picture seem more reasonable and builds confidence for future endeavors.
ï¿½ Be assertive
. Instead of using victim words like ï¿½canï¿½tï¿½ and ï¿½never,ï¿½ use power phrases like ï¿½though my anxiety is difficult to deal with, I am learning to control it.ï¿½
ï¿½ Eat well
. Because blood sugar tends to drop when worrying, itï¿½s important to eat three meals a day. This can even include an afternoon snack, such as nuts or yogurt, for a quick protein pick-me-up. Avoid caffeine, which can add to feelings of anxiousness.
For more information about anxiety, visit the Anxiety Disorders Association of America at www.adaa.org, the Anxiety Panic Internet Resource at www.algy.com
, and the National Anxiety Center at www.anxietycenter.com